Imagine the Universe!
Imagine Home  |   Teachers' Corner   |  


Very large numbers are commonly used in describing objects and distances in our Universe. It’s easy to correctly read even the largest numbers if you know the meanings of the prefixes that come before the "illion" in each of them. Most of the prefixes and their meanings are probably familiar to you because they are present in common words that we use and hear every day. Review the prefixes in the chart below, and then prepare to find the answer to the question that follows.



(two) billion - 1,000,000,000

(three) trillion - 1,000,000,000,000

(four) quadrillion - 1,000,000,000,000,000

(five) quintillion - 1,000,000,000,000,000,000

(six) sextillion - 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

(seven) septillion - 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

(eight) octillion - 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

(nine) nonillion - 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000



I am the farthest object visible with the naked eye from Earth. I am a rotating spiral nebula located about 2.3 million light-years away. I contain over 300 billion stars. Because I am visible to the naked eye, I appeared on star charts long before the invention of the telescope. What is my name?

______________________________________________________ IN ANDROMEDA


Determine the place values in the numeral below. As you answer the following questions you will notice that each digit has a letter with which it corresponds. Below the questions, you will see a numerical message. Convert each digit in the message to its corresponding letter. If you correctly answer each question, you will know the name to place in the blank above.


1. What number is in the ten septillion’s place? ___________ = G

2. What number is in the hundred million’s place? _________ = H

3. What number is in the ten trillion’s place? __________ = T

4. What number is in the ten octillion’s place? ________ = R

5. What number is in the hundred billion’s place? ________ = E

6. What number is in the quadrillion’s place? __________ = A

7. What number is in the hundred septillion’s place? _________ = L

8. What number is in the hundred octillion’s place? _________ = X

9. What number is in the nonillion’s place? __________ = Y


MESSAGE: 7—2—4—1—9—4—3—7—1—3—0—3—5—8

Back Index Next

Download a pdf version.

Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Acting Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

DVD Table of Contents
Educator's Index